ghost world: special edition (2001, MGM/UA), dir. Terry Zwigoff w/ Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson. Rating: NNNN
Working from Daniel Clowes's comic, director Zwigoff (Crumb) turns to drama with very striking results in this black comedy. Enid (Birch), a just-graduated high-school student, idles about an unnamed city with best friend Rebecca (Johansson) and meets a bemused record geek (Steve Buscemi) who doesn't want to meet someone who shares his interest in old 78s and artifacts of bygone culture.
Birch (American Beauty) and Johansson (The Man Who Wasn't There) won the female acting prizes from the Toronto Film Critics Association, and veteran character actor Buscemi was a runner-up in the voting, which gives a hint of the kind of acting riches on display here. Add a brilliant comic supporting performance from Illeana Douglas as an art teacher and creator of the video Mirror, Father, Mirror. More important, though, is Zwigoff's striking sense of space and light, unexpected in a documentarian. One senses that he hasn't quite escaped the Crumb experience. Buscemi's character has a lot of Crumb-like qualities, and Enid's drawings were created by Sophie Crumb, Robert's daughter. extras Not so special: no commentary, a 10-minute making-of featurette from the EPK, deleted scenes, music video for Jaan Pehechaan Ho (the Bollywood number we see at the beginning of the film), English subtitles.
Big-screen rating: A hilarious nod to society's fringe-dwellers -- teenage geeks, bitter malcontents and anal-retentive losers. NNNN (IR)
chopper (2000, Alliance Atlantis), dir. Andrew Dominik w/ Eric Bana, Simon Lyndon. Rating: NNN
"I'm just a normal bloke. A normal bloke who likes a bit of torture." One of the more bizarre bits of cultural detritus to float up from Australia, this biographical fiction focuses on Mark "Chopper" Read, lifetime criminal sociopath, murderer, ex-convict and author of the best-selling autobiography on which the film is based. Bana, considerably puffier than in his turn as a Delta Force sergeant in Black Hawk Down, plays the title character, and he's hypnotically charismatic. (Ang Lee has cast him as Bruce Banner in his film version of The Incredible Hulk.)
Writer-director Dominik locks us into the perspective of Read, who gets out of prison and starts killing drug dealers, an imprisoning perspective indeed. I'm not sure anyone would want to own this, but it's certainly an interesting rental if you've got the stomach for its brutally realistic violence. extras Director and author's commentary, deleted scenes, "Weekend With Chopper" featurette where star Bana meets the man he's playing, theatrical trailer, English subtitles.
Big-screen rating: N/A
Also this week
Absolutely Fabulous: Season 4
Britney Spears: Live At The MGM Grand
Toronto Maple Leafs 75th Anniversary